Letters to the Editor, July 25, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 July, 2015, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 July, 2015, 4:24pm

Appalled by despicable behaviour

I have lived in Hong Kong since 2007.

Like many other people I have witnessed a gradual deterioration in the cleanliness of Hong Kong streets, and it has caused me great concern. I assumed it had a lot to do with increasing tourist numbers and pressure on services as a result. I was wrong. What I witnessed on July 15 was unbelievable.

On exiting Pacific Place at Level 4 via the escalator, I saw a well-dressed young man light up a cigarette and drop the packet on the ground. I mentioned to him that he had dropped something. He picked up the packet and continued smoking. I kept walking, then realised I had forgotten to go to the bank and turned around. He was still there, smoking. When I left the ATM hall, he had gone. The partly smoked cigarette and the packet were now both tossed on the ground where he had been standing. Despite being shamed for dropping the packet in the first place, he did it again.

This person was obviously an employee of one of the businesses in Pacific Place mall (he was wearing a name tag and a smart royal blue suit). There are refuse cans at the bases of every escalator and ashtrays nearby. It is bad enough when the drivers park outside Pacific Place and drop cigarettes and other rubbish everywhere.

If the people who work in a building treat it like a garbage tip, what hope is there for keeping the city clean? And what is this sense of entitlement that people feel that they don't have to clean up after themselves, that someone else should do it? It is despicable, selfish behaviour.

I wish I had seen his name tag. I've no doubt his employer would not be impressed. Nor should anyone be.

Julianne Blain, Admiralty

Don't mess with city's free market

The recent mainland stock exchange crisis illustrated an interesting difference in style. We saw in one week up to 52 per cent of companies temporarily suspend trading of their stocks. This occurred through a so-called cooling-off mechanism.

Suspending trade punishes those investors who are prepared and do their research on a company, while it protects those with a wide network of inside connections and the unprepared. When prices are free, it is the prepared investors who are confident enough to buy when prices plummet. Further to this problem is the fact that the suspension of trade disrupts price signals. This disruption leads to the inefficient allocation of resources. It also results in a prolonging of the panic it is seeking to avoid. All of these concepts run against the grain of Hong Kong and our efficient centric way of life.

Another fundamental problem with cooling off is that it is against the founding principle of capital markets - the freedom to buy in and a freedom to cash out at any time. In Hong Kong this principle is something we have strongly subscribed to since the 1840s.

This is the main reason we have led as a financial centre while Shanghai languishes in its overregulated state of mediocrity. However, we now have a CEO at the Hong Kong stock exchange who described the "mainland market as 'the most transparent' and 'safe'" ("HKEx chief defends comments", July 17). Yet transparency results from clear price signals which cooling off sets out to limit.

He now proposes a similar suspension of trade mechanism on the Hong Kong exchange, with "a five-minute cooling-off period if the price of any of the 81 constituent stocks of the Hang Seng Index and the H-share index moves up or down 10 per cent from the last trade" ("Trading in calmer waters", June 15).

Do we want to continue leading as a role model financial centre to the world? Or do we want to sacrifice what makes us special, sink to mediocrity and follow rather than lead?

The Lion Rock Institute firmly believes Hong Kong should remain the role model to the world, and to Shanghai and Shenzhen as well.

Zachary Friend, intern, Lion Rock Institute

Turn historic studios into film museum

There has been heated debate about the future of Shaw Studios in Clear Water Bay.

In March the entire complex was granted the highest heritage listing by the Antiquities Advisory Board of grade one.

In June it met again ("Heritage panel split on Shaw Studios", June 5).

Shaw Studios was first opened in 1961 by Sir Run Run Shaw. At the time it was the world's largest private studio. More than 1,000 films were produced on the site, and many became well-known locally and overseas. It symbolises the golden age of the local film industry. The iconic Shaw House, which was often featured as a tranquil hospital situated on a hilltop, holds special memories for TV drama fans.

The present owners indicated they wanted Shaw House to accommodate a kindergarten and have flats in Shaw Villa.

Keeping individual buildings intact is only a first step. The true spirit of heritage preservation is to keep the story of a building alive. We should seek to preserve the memory, and heart and soul of a building.

Hong Kong people once took pride in their local film productions and our city was hailed as the "Hollywood of the East".

Instead of a private kindergarten, wouldn't it be better if Shaw Studios were converted into a local film museum to narrate its glorious history?

Complementing the largely residential area of Clear Water Bay, the museum could become an attractive educational and leisure destination that would diversify the character of the neighbourhood, benefit schools and become an asset of which Hong Kong can be proud.

Tiffany Tang, Fo Tan

Too many citizens opting for fast food

Most Hong Kong people are so busy at work they forget to stick to a balanced diet.

So often they resort to eating fast food, and if they eat it too often, it could face serious health problems.

A lot of fast food is deep fried, and the oil is often used. If these meals are part of someone's regular diet, it can lead to them becoming overweight or obese. Some students eat fast food every day. And it is not just to save time, but it is also cheap. Fast-food restaurants always offer different kinds of discounts for customers.

The food is not good and nutritious in any way. You may enjoy the taste, but think about what it is doing to you.

People should ignore the discounts at these eateries. Try to focus on eating more nutritious food, such as vegetables, so you have a better chance of staying healthy.

Jason Luk, Tseung Kwan O

Let children make their own mistakes

Many students in Hong Kong seem to rely on their parents to plan their futures.

I realised this was a problem when I was a student helper during the information day which was held by my university.

The people who came to me and asked questions were mostly parents.

When I asked the students about their interests, they often looked confused, as if this was not a matter that should concern them.

Youngsters who let their parents make these crucial decisions may end up at university majoring in a subject they do not enjoy. They should have clear goals.

This phenomenon shows that in Hong Kong too many parents are overprotective. Of course it is important that they take care of their children and develop a good relationship. However, they should not be trying to protect them from all setbacks.

Letting them face challenges and make their own mistakes and deal with them, helps their children to learn about life and become more mature.

It helps them acquire decision-making and critical-thinking skills. They need to be given some space so that they can grow up. How can they learn to live independently if their parents do everything for them?

This also illustrates the failure of the education system.

In our local schools the focus is on exams. There are few opportunities for students to explore their own interests.

It is important for them to do this so that they have a better understanding of themselves and their aspirations.

They should be encouraged to get involved in a variety of activities throughout their school lives, rather than just concentrating on academic studies.

For example, I read an article in the South China Morning Post about a primary school offering cookery classes.

Parents and schools should work together to help with the holistic development of children.

Ben Yu, Tsuen Wan

Procedure to renew licence is primitive

On Monday I went to United Centre to renew my car licence (aka road tax).

The staff were polite and efficient; the whole thing took less than a half-hour - or 1½ hours if you include the journey from my home in Sai Kung. But what a primitive procedure.

I was doing the same thing online a decade ago in indolent, low-tech Cyprus.

You filled in the form on your PC, paid by credit or debit card, and they e-mailed you the tax disc to print out at home.

It's pathetic that Hong Kong, once Asia's hi-tech leader, can't automate such a simple process.

Euan Barty, Sai Kung